What is Social Marketing? | Marketing Partners VT

Change Marketing • Social Issues Communication • Social Change Marketing • Behavior Change Marketing • Social Good Marketing Communications • Marketing for Good


Why the multiple terms? We explain the evolution of why we now use alternative terms for the classic 'social marketing approach' in a blog post here: Social Marketing: Why It’s Past Time to Reframe and Rebrand, although we have high hopes for clarity from the new consensus definition of social marketing shown below: 

The following definition is endorsed by the Boards of the International Social Marketing Association, European Social Marketing Association, and Australian Association of Social Marketing.


Social Marketing seeks to develop and integrate marketing concepts with other approaches to influence behaviours that benefit individuals and communities for the greater social good. Social Marketing practice is guided by ethical principles. It seeks to integrate research, best practice, theory, audience and partnership insight, to inform the delivery of competition sensitive and segmented social change programmes that are effective, efficient, equitable and sustainable.san_serif_quote4close-1

Social marketing is not the same as social media marketing or cause marketing.

For your reference, here is what we used to say about the Social Marketing Approach.

      • Social marketing programs are designed to achieve a specific social good; That is they work to help people make better choices or to improve society or the world in some way, rather than working to benefit the sponsoring organization.
      • The focus is on behavior change (for individuals or society), not simply awareness or attitude change.
      • Social marketing programs are based on formative research with the target population, and on the benefits and barriers-to-change affecting behavior.
      • Social marketing programs involve multiple public sector and non-profit partners.
      • Social marketing programs are designed based on a combination of research-based social change theories and behavior change models such as diffusion of innovation, social norms, stages of change model, social learning theory or theory of planned behavior.


No matter what you prefer to call it, we are particularly enthusiastic about using the proven 'social marketing' approach to achieve a specific social good, and welcome the opportunity for a conversation about your project.


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